Another pre-holiday cookbook, the weekend before I was scheduled to fly out of the country for a weekend, so really not the best time to be planning elaborate meals. To challenge myself even further, I picked Yotam Ottolenghi’s Ottolenghi The Cookbook, a book I’d ordered online a couple of years ago after finding out it had some Yemeni influenced recipes. I really want to find a Yemeni recipe book (in English), so I can cook some of that delicious food – all suggestions welcome. But back to this book, it’s beautiful, the photos are beautiful, the ideas of food are beautiful, everything about this book is beautiful, except I didn’t have as much luck with a couple of the recipes as I would have liked. This really is an aspirational cookbook though. The recipes are long and detailed, the time taken to put some of these dishes together is quite long, and although I do want to go back and try some of them, I am a little intimidated by the recipes and worry that I may not be as capable as I usually believe I am. Overall I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
Aubergine-wrapped ricotta gnocchi with sage butter
- 1 small to medium aubergine
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 20g unsalted butter, melted
- 15g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 30g pine nuts
- 250g ricotta cheese
- 2 free-range egg yolks
- 35g plain flour
- 40g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tbsp chopped basil
- 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- a good grinding of black pepper
- 90g unsalted butter
- 20 sage leaves
- a pinch of salt
- 1/2 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
- Place the pine nuts in a small frying pan and dry-roast over a medium heat for 3 – 4 minutes, stirring them occasionally so they colour evenly. Transfer to a large bowl and add the ricotta, egg yolks, flour, grated Parmesan, herbs, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir well, then cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Trim the top and bottom off the aubergine and cut it lengthways into 5mm-thick slices; you will need 8 – 12 slices, depending on how many gnocchi you make. Lay the slices on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and brush liberally with the olive oil. Place in the oven and roast for 10 – 15 minutes, until tender and golden.
- To shape the gnocchi, wet your hands and scoop out 40g – 50g portions (about 3 tablespoons). Roll into 8 – 12 elongated barrel shapes. Meanwhile, bring plenty of salted water to the boil in a large saucepan.
- Carefully add a few dumplings to the simmering water – don’t cook them all at once or they will stick to each other. After about 2 minutes, they should rise to the surface. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a tea towel to drain. Pat dry with kitchen paper and brush them with the melted butter.
- Once the gnocchi have cooled down, take a strip of aubergine and wrap it around the centre of each one, like a belt. Trim the aubergine so that they seam is at the bottom. Place the gnocchi in a greased ovenproof dish and set aside. You can cover them with cling film and keep them in the fridge for a day at this stage.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle the gnocchi with the Parmesan and bake in the oven at 180C for 8 – 10 minutes, until they are heated through.
- Meanwhile, quickly make the sage butter sauce, as it needs to coincide with the gnocchi. Place a small saucepan over a moderate heat. Add the butter and allow it to simmer for a few minutes until it turns a light golden-brown colour and has a nutty smell. Remove from the heat and carefully add the sage, salt and lemon juice, if using. Return to the heat for a few seconds to cook the sage lightly.
- Diving the gnocchi between serving plates, pour the hot butter on top with a few sage leaves and serve immediately.
Notes on this recipe:
- There are a lot of instructions
- I don’t know what I did wrong, but the moment the gnocchi hit the simmering water they started to disintegrate. Putting them on tea towels just meant that I had tea towels covered in hot cheesy goo, which meant that that tea towel was thrown away at the end of the night.
- The gnocchi themselves are actually delicious, but it’s a really fiddly recipe to get right.
Roast potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes with lemon and sage
- 500g Jersey Royals or other small potatoes
- 500g Jerusalem artichokes
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 50ml olive oil
- 2 tbsp roughly chopped sage
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 lemon
- 250g cherry tomatoes
- 170g Kalamata olives, putted
- 2 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Preheat the oven to 200C. Wash the potatoes well, put them in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of boiling water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, until semi-cooked. Drain, cool slightly and then cut each potato in half lengthways. Put them in a large roasting tray.
- Wash the Jerusalem artichokes, cut them into slices 5mm thick and add to the potatoes. Add the garlic, olive oil, sage, salt and pepper. Mix everything well with your hands and put in the oven.
- Meanwhile, thinly slice the lemon and remove the pips. After the vegetables have been roasting for about 30 minutes, add the sliced lemon, stir with a wooden spoon and return to the oven for 20 minutes. Now add the cherry tomatoes and olives, stir well again, and cook for a further 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and stir in some of the chopped parsley. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the remaining parsley.
Notes on this recipe:
- A straight forward collection of vegetables that are really tasty.
Marinated rack of lamb with coriander and honey
- 1 kg rack of lamb, French trimmed
- 20g flat leaf parsley, leaves and stalks
- 30g mint, leaves and stalks
- 30g coriander, leaves and stalks
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- 3 chillies, seeded
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 50ml lemon juice
- 60ml soy sauce
- 120ml sunflower oil
- 3 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 4 tbsp water
- Make sure most of the fat is trimmed off the lamb, leaving a uniform thin layer that will help keep the meat moist and add to the flavour. Use a very sharp knife to separate the rack into portions of 2 or 3 cutlets. Place in a non-metal container.
- Blitz together all the remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pour them over the lamb and make sure it is well covered for a night in the marinade. Refrigerate overnight.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Heat up a heavy cast iron pan, preferably a griddle pan. Remove the meat fro the marinade and shake off the excess. Sear well on all sides, about 5 minutes in total. Transfer to a baking tray and cook in the oven for about 15 minutes, depending on the size of the racks and how well you want them cooked.
- Meanwhile, heat the marinade in a small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Put the cutlets on serving plates and serve the sauce in a separate bowl. Both cutlets and sauce can be served hot or at room temperature.
Notes on this recipe:
- YUM… oh yum yum yum
- I didn’t marinate them overnight because I didn’t read that much of the recipe when I selected it. In the end they were marinated for about 4 hours, and were delicious at this point too.
- Lamb cutlets are expensive (unless you know someone who breeds sheep and a good butcher), so this is a very occasional treat.